Diamond Engagement Ring

How To Buy Diamonds | Diamond Buying Guide

How To Buy Diamonds |  A Diamond Buying Guide

Are you hesitant in your purchase?  Afraid of being misleading or ripped off? Contact us for help.

James Allen has launched a great 25% off sale on all engagement rings  Click Here to Browse Deals.

Blue Nile is one of our favorite vendors and they have generously offered our readers an exclusive one-time use coupon. (Click Here to get $50 off). 

Who This Article Is For

This article is made to help my readers gain clarity and confidence in their purchase. Whether its buying a loose diamond or a set engagement ring, you will learn how to choose with confidence.  Get ready to save money as well by avoiding unnecessary overspending. Buying a diamond can be tricky. And walking into a jewelry store with no education can be costly.  Follow along with my Diamond Buying Guide and learn How To Buy Diamonds with confidence.

1. Set a budget:

The first rule of this Diamond Buying Guide.  Let’s get rid of the old rule of 2 months of salary.  No rule applies to everyone and their situation.   This is a symbol of love and commitment not going above your means.  With that said, its important to know your significant other expectations. Do they prefer dainty like this classic .96 engagement ring solitaire ring?  Or do they like more flair and dazzle like this 1.54 carat on a stunning Cambridge Halo Platinum Ring?  But learning you can adjust your search with small changes.  As a start get a baseline.

My advice, compare pricing using these two top vendors to see what diamonds they offer and compare.

Click Here for the starting page for James Allen.

Click Here for the starting page of Blue Nile.

2. Pick a shape

The beginning of your search must be the diamond shape.  Each diamond shape has different search criteria such as clarity, symmetry and color that works best.   Each shape has a different cost so searching multiple shapes at the same time will leave you frustrated.  For example, Take a look at this 1 carat SI 1 clarity H color Princess cut diamond for $3,340 vs   this Round 1 carat SI1 clarity H color Diamond for $4,610.  Each shape has there pros and cons.

Round is the most popular and is labeled the Cut King.  If your significant other isn’t leaving hints of their favorite shape, take a look at their Pinterest or maybe ask a best friend to be sure you pick the diamond shape of their dreams.  Round is the most popular following Princess, Oval, and Emerald.

3. Learn the 4 C’s and Narrow your search:

Once you have chosen the shape, its time to understand how the 4 C’s  (Carat, Clarity, Color and Cut) interact with it.  The 4 C’s represent the most important definitive characteristics of a diamond.

I always recommend to start with your goal in carat weight. So when you go to search a site like James Allen, you can specifically only choose to see 1 carat diamonds.   See below a sample of what the search sliders look like.

How To Buy A Diamond | Diamond Buying Guide

click on the image above to go the their search page

Start at the goal carat weight.  You can then adjust the values to see where the prices is in conjunction with your budget. A quick tip.  Shopping for a .90 can yield a deep discount versus a 1 carat.  Typically, every .50 of a carat means a jump in price.  Some times you find a rare 1.85 at a great deal.

 

Next is Cut Grade.  If you are searching for a round diamond, I suggest you search for ideal cut.   A fancu shape(any other diamond other than round)  does not come with a cut grade from GIA.  Too many variables at play so the cut is left for the viewer to decide.   I have two articles that I will list showing how to find the right cut grade in both sites.  Follow those guides lines if you need a fancy cut.

James Allen Cut Guide –  Bluenile Cut Guide.

Color is the next choice to make.    You do not need to pick a D or E color.  The human eye can’t typically even see the difference between a D or an H-F color.  Depending the shape of stone you choose, a G-I color is the perfect range to shop for.  Round diamonds hide color very well and a H-I color works perfectly.

 

Clarity is your next option to choose.   The main criteria is to make sure the diamond is eye clean.  If I show you a Flawless diamond next to a SI1 that’s eye clean, is there a benefit to the flawless other than bragging rights?  Safe money and choose an eye clean SI1 if possible.  Diamonds like emeralds typically require a vs1.

If you are under budget, congrats! Feel free to go for a heavier carat weight.  If its over budget, keep adjusting the parameters of clarity and color to see how close your budget is reached. Hopefully, you have found this Diamond Buying Guide helpful thus far. Reach out and email me if you need help navigating these sites.   To go deeper in this How To Buy Diamonds Guide,  Click on this article to learn more about the 4 C’s.

Once you have found some options, go even deeper and check there length to width ratios, fluorescence, table percentages etc.   Feel free to reach out to me, A GIA trained Diamond Expert to help How To Buy Diamonds.

4. Choosing your engagement ring:

What I love about the different engagement ring options is it can help with the visual tremendously.  Lets say you were shy with reaching a certain carat goal.  A ring choice like a Halo, Vintage style, or 3 Stone ring will give it the extra size to appear much larger. So a .80 carat diamond on a beautiful Halo diamond engagement ring setting can be a stunner.

Again personal engagement ring preference of your significant other is important.  If you are unable to find any information, you can always go by whats popular.  Click on this link or banner to see an article from Blue Nile on their Top 20 Engagement Ring Styles.  This will give you a understanding on what engagement rings are popular.   You can also go to recently purchased rings from clients, filter the shape, price and style to see what others are doing and get inspired.  Click here to see some recent clients rings.


Here is a video I made showing how to navigate online search bars and help you narrow down your search.

Is an Engagement Ring over 1 Carat neccesary?

The right answer depends on you, the buyer, expectations and what your comfortable with.  Thank DeBeer’s and there marketing ploy in the 1930’s for the 1 carat diamond ring and beyond. Linking diamonds with emotion and here we are today in a world full of expectations.   Knowing your significant others expectations is a good start. Their personality can give you subtle clues.  Is your significant other a simple, free spirited hippy who loves walks on the beach and staying in.  Or rather ambitious globe trotter with a thirst for luxury items.   Know their expectations to avoid an negative vibes.

The average size hovers around a 1 carat engagement ring.  CreditDonkey conducted an independent survey across several major cities in the U.S..  The results we found were:

  • Los Angeles: 0.83 carat
  • New York City: 1.45 carat
  • Chicago: 1.29 carat
  • Dallas: 1.04 carat
  • Miami: 1.08 carat

More important is getting something you can afford.  This is suppose to be a symbol of love so don’t go in over your head.  Which leads me to the next topic.  How to buy smart and maximize your purchase.  Here are some great tips to get you to a 1 carat engagement ring and beyond.


Getting the best value

The 4 C’s describe the buying criteria for buying Diamonds.  Cut is of highest priority as it is the aspect that impacts the beauty of the diamond the strongest. A well cut .90 carat will look like the same size as a decent cut 1 carat.  See sample image below. 1 carat diamond ring

These two Princess cut Diamonds  are the same carat weight. Can you see a visible difference in size? Its clear the diamond on the left is bigger. Their measurements on left are 5.65 x 5.61  vs the right 5.32 x 5.14.

NEWS FLASH! DIAMOND CLARITY IS OVERRATED!

Choose A Lower Clarity!  Si1 is the perfect grade to choose from.  You can occasionally find a great choice in SI2.  Below is an example of how you can filter different attributes like clarity and color.

buying 1 carat engagement ring

click on image to view James Allen Search Methods

buying a 1 carat engagement ring

I suggest you leave in the slider SI2-SI1 and VS2.  The reason for leaving VS2 is there are sometimes deals happening and you may find a great find with a higher clarity.  For a more expensive debate on Clarity Click Here on My Diamond Clarity Article. 

Sites like James Allen has HD 360 viewing of every diamond on their site.   You can see diamonds zoomed in by 20x-40x.  This will give you confidence in your purchase.

HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF A 20X ZOOMED IN DIAMOND ON JAMES ALLEN                          DIAMOND GRADING ONLINE

As you can see some Inclusions(diamond flaws) are white and are deeper or off centered causing them to not be as noticeable.  Further proving the point that not all SI1 Diamond grades are the same.  This is again why I only recommend vendors such as James Allen, Blue Nile & Brian Gavin that have proven track records of thousands of happy clients and real images and video of their diamonds in regular lighting magnified so you can judge and evaluate more accurately.

Save Money Buying Your Engagement Ring

click on the image above to visit James Allen and learn more.

Reason why its so important to be able to clearly see a diamond.

 

DIAMOND COLOR

The more closely a diamond approaches colorless, the more they are valued.  As a tip found in my diamond color guide,  you will see the sweet spot for value is in between H-J color.  In terms of hierarchy in the 4 C’s of Diamonds, I consider it 3rd in importance. See below for a sample chart.

Diamond Color Chart

A Diamond color under M is not recommended.    In the illustration below you will see samples of color. HOWEVER, when the diamond is facing up that color is harder to see.  Consequently, this is why I love that H-J color.  Again see my Color guide for tips best colors depending on what diamond shape you are buying.   See this example of a J Color Diamond mounted below.  Learn how Diamond Florescence can improve your J color diamond.

DO YOU SEE A LOT OF COLOR? 4 C's of Diamonds

example of a J Color Diamond mounted

4 C's of Diamonds

color chart showing color illustrations

Most noteworthy, remember Color starts from the tip of the stone towards the face.  Different shapes can effect diamond color.  A round diamond hides color very well. In contrast when buying a Pear shape or Emerald, you must choose a higher color. See images below for example. For recommendations per shape regarding color, visit my Color page for deeper info.

4 C's of Diamonds

 DIAMOND CARAT

4 C's of Diamonds

Diamond Carat is considered 4th in importance in the 4 C’s of Diamonds.  Costumers usually default to this because size is easily visible to the human eye.  While color and clarity is hard to see. Its the obvious aspect that adds expense as there really isn’t a way around it.  Size cost money. A 0.95 carat  vs a 1 carat diamond has a large price jump. Each fraction can make a large difference in cost.  There is no shame if your budget doesn’t allow for a good quality 1 carat diamond ring.  A beautifully cut .90 or .74 can look beautiful and almost the same size as a 1 carat engagement ring.  Not to mention you have options in engagement rings like halo and double halos that add to the rings presence.

Click on the image below to view samples of created rings purchased by real people to get an idea of what it can look like.

Below are pages from James Allen & Blue Nile that shows you real rings created by recent customers.  This can help you get an idea of what your ring can look like.

SAMPLE IMAGE OF BLUE NILE’S RECENTLY PURCHASED.

CLICK IMAGE TO VISIT SECTION FOR IDEAS. 

DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING

SAMPLE IMAGES OF JAMES ALLEN RECENTLY PURCHASED.

CLICK IMAGE TO VISIT SECTION FOR IDEAS. 

you can filter 1 carat diamond ring and different shapes and sizes

“A 1 carat diamond ring may be the average, but it’s not the rule”

5 Reasons Buying A Diamond Engagement Ring Online Is Better

5 Reasons Why Buying Diamond Engagement Ring Online Is Better  + The Nitty-Gritty:  Walking into a jewelry store feels a little like walking into a car dealer.  A salesperson is there to up sell you and push you to a stone not because its the perfect match for your needs. But rather because its one of the few they have that match your price point. Retail stores spend easily over 10k to 30,000 in special lighting to make a Diamond Engagement Ring dazzle.  You may be looking at a flawed diamond but the lighting enhances the sparkle masking imperfections.  The Bottom line- Yes you can find a beautiful diamond in a retail store BUT! It will be 20-45%  higher price point with a risk of buying a diamond improperly certified(paying more for an inferior diamond grade). Jared and many mall jewelry stores are notorious for this.  Read Below for the 5 Reasons Why Buying A Diamond Engagement Ring Online Is Better Than Retail.

1. Massive amounts of inventory

Imagine you walk into a store.  Say you want a princess shape and a budget of 5,000.   They may have 2-3 stones that match your price point.  Now you are forced to evaluate 2-3 stones that may not even have the right combination of attributes that you want.  Maybe of the two options they have, one stone is bottom heavy and the other has a long length to width ratio. The last stone is great but way over budget.  You are forced to choose between two undesirables and going above your means.  Online, we can find hundreds.  We have the power to critically filter the most important attributes and get the best quality diamond at the best price.   Sites like James Allen & Blue Nile  claim access to 150,000 diamonds.

2. Better Pricing

It makes sense that buying a Diamond Engagement Ring Online is cheaper.  An Online Business has no expensive retail store front needed.  No sales teams, commissions, security, or heavy insurance needed.  Those savings get passed on to you.  Online Vendors like James Allen & Blue

Nile make small percentages and rely on more transactions versus bigger profit margins to keep the retail doors open.  If you have unlimited budget and it doesn’t bother you to pay more for the same product then retail stores are for you.  If you are more price conscience and prefer more budget to be spent on a better diamond then online is the best option.

3. You can’t TOUCH  –  BUT You Can SEE BETTER Online!

Let me explain. As stated in The Nitty Gritty, when you walk into a retail store, they will present a diamond under enhanced lighting.  They proceed by placing it on a table in front of you to evaluate.  As you try to see it with your naked eye, its so small its hard to evaluate. Especially when its sparkling under enhanced lighting.  There can be a big black spec in the middle but every time you turn the diamond light hits your eye and its not noticeable.

Buying A Diamond Engagement Ring Online

They then hand you a loupe.  A loupe is a small finger 10 times magnification tool. This is when you can get a better look if you are able to use the Loupe tool correctly.  Even worse if the store gives you a mounted diamond.   It’s Even harder to evaluate with the prongs hiding additional imperfections

You have to hold the diamond with tweezers in one hand and hold it up to your face with the loupe on the other hand. Sure it works, but its cumbersome.

HERE IS THE DIFFERENCE– Vendors like James Allen , Blue Nile and Brian Gavin  have 15x-20x zoomed images and video of the diamond. They light the diamond in standard lighting to grade subjectively.  Huge advantage for buying your Diamond Engagement Ring Online.

Buying Diamond Engagement Ring Online

This is HUGE.  This is how you can search on James Allen.   This is what I consider a strong benefit Buying A Diamond Engagement Ring Online. I may not be able to touch, but I can purchase with more confidence because I can see clearly with out pressure and choose whats right for me.  Not based on enhanced lighting and a salesman pushing me. Which leads me to 4.

4. No Pressure, Buy On Your Time At Your Pace

Search for diamonds on your lunch break, at home or whenever convenient. Instead of driving to three stores which can take hours. Just visit another website and compare your findings with a clear mind. Nobody likes a salesman pushing you towards a certain purchase. People may not realize this but certain stones that have a better profit margin will be pushed to clients by sales reps.   The sales reps advice may sound sincere but clients don’t realize the hidden agenda.

5. Save On Sales Tax

To top it off you get to save a additional 7% off of tax. Online does not tax your sale. Big win for online.

 

Buying Diamond Engagement Ring Online For The Win!

CONCLUSION:  Buying A Diamond Engagement Ring Online Wins in my book.  If you are hesitant.  Feel free to go to a retail store to get pricing.  Write down the diamonds attributes and compare.  Trust me, you wont be disappointed with the online savings.

Here is a video I made showing how to navigate online search bars and help you narrow down your search.

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